Testers Should Enable Projects and Empower Developers
Test and Monitor | Posted June 13, 2014

In this video, Dawn Haynes, Principal Trainer and Consultant at PerfTestPlus, Inc., explains why it is crucial for testers to give both positive and negative feedback constructively and gives advice for testing teams  who are trying to avoid being "project boat anchors."

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Video Transcript:

So, I think the task and the job of testing, and the way it's managed... is kind of a factor there. Because testers, if you look at the way a lot of people get into testing, some people come from tech support. Let's put them in the category of "helpers." They want to help. Some people come from the business, and so they are domain experts but they also have a vested interest in making the system better. And they probably also want to take their expertise and help.

So, I remember a conference talk a while ago by Lee Copeland where he called testing a co-dependent activity. Now you just wire that for a moment. Some people may be put off by that notion, but I think there's a lot of validity to it. And if I ask testers on average, "What do you care about? Why are you here? Why do you want to do this?" [They'll respond], "I want to help."

So, if you put yourself in that situation, that you want to help, now how do you know if you're helping? Well really, you're a tester on a project. You find bugs. You tell people about bugs. Who likes you? I used to walk down the development hallway and the first person would see me and then every door would shut after that. And they're like, "Woah! If Dawn's in the hallway, it's bad. We don't even want to know...La La La. Let's all just run away."

We're the bearers of bad news too frequently, and I think we do a disservice to ourselves. And one of the things I talk about in one of my more recent classes, where I say, you know, when you find good things like say robustness or good performing applications, why don't you tell someone about it? I say, why don't you buy a developer a doughnut? You know, make friends and give people positive feedback as well, not just only the negative. You will be very surprised what kind of vibe actually comes back when you are giving people good, constructive feedback whether it's positive or negative. And then that's a complete picture of giving the, I'd say, the value proposition of doing testing and assessment of software.

So, I think that could possibly be a contributing factor, is that testers want to know, "Am I doing the right stuff? Am I doing a  good job?" Because no one ever says, "good job." People will say, "Why are you always complaining? You guys have too many questions. Why are you always holding the release back?" I call that being a testing boat anchor.

Now that's very different than what the folks who talk about the business value of testing. What's the business value of testing? That we're doing what the stakeholder team needs. So, I don't want test teams to be boat anchors, I want them to enable projects.

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